I've started a post to this end multiple times, only to reel it back for fear of being seen as simply virtue signaling. It's easy to say something about current issues - about racial tension, trafficking, abortion, world hunger, civil war, genocide - and do nothing. Yet, in our culture of sharing everything from a picture of our breakfast to a quip about the latest hot topic of news, it seems silence is becoming increasingly associated with compliance. It seems trite to attempt to cover the appropriate ground as I write during this short lunch break, like there's so much that needs to be said that the words can't figure out where to stand in line so that they might make sense as they flow from the keys, further confused by the lackluster leftovers I'm shoveling in my mouth.
I'm not equipped with experience or a degree that allows me special access to speaking on these topics. By the grace of God, I've never been a victim of abuse. And yet, everyday I find that a story like mine is increasingly rare. I don't know what it feels like to be legally covenanted to a man who seems more like a monster than the Prince Charming he may have seemed to be before. I know nothing of the guilt of feeling like you are to blame, of some twisted sort of survivor's guilt, that being involved in trauma somehow makes you responsible for it. And I know nothing of the weight of carrying a secret too heavy to bear of past pain that hasn't been shared because it is too painful or too private or too scary.
Yet, for those of you who have walked it - this tragedy that few may even see that has left memories recalled in the most vulnerable moments and reflexes that you often don't even realize you have, developed to keep you more safe and secure than before - I am so sorry. I hate that we live in a world where these things happen. I hate that sin has invaded every cellular structure of our humanity and our universe, making it unfit to obey the created design that God so willfully set into play. I hate that instead of running to you to comfort and help you, often the church has pointed fingers or ignored you. I'm thankful that many pastors are making statements to turn this, but I also understand the frustration that a statement should ever have to be made in the first place.
The brokenness of all of creation does not give a pass for sin. Abuse is never acceptable before a holy and righteous God. Every human bears His image, and abuse is a direct desecration of that image. And abuse is not "to be suffered through" for the good of the work of the Spirit in the abuser. Abuse is not your fault. Abuse is not okay. And abuse is absolutely grounds to leave a relationship, whether that be marriage or otherwise. (Scripturally, I believe abuse can be seen in the instruction of divorce being acceptable in situations of abandonment and infidelity. Abuse makes a home no longer safe, and is the abandonment of a safe, loving relationship, even if the husband has not physically abandoned the home.)
The picture of the gospel is of Jesus' sacrifice for His bride, the Church. Mistreatment in any form has no home in this self-sacrificial love. Jesus was love to the outcasts, hope to the hopeless, and mercy to the guilty. He is our example of how to live as men and women, both inside and outside of marriage relationships.
Church, we've got to do better, to be better. We've got to stand for life in all aspects - man, woman, unborn, black, white, hispanic, incarcerated, unemployed, homeless, refugee. We've also got to do something, not just say something. In our share everything (that makes us look good), but stay isolated from being deeply known culture, we've often lost the art of knowing each other past what social media tells us, of moving each other toward godliness, of rebuke of unrighteousness and restitution.
We've got to pray as those who believe that prayer is the most effective course for change. We have to ask God to protect those who might become victims, to give strength, wisdom, courage, and for the church to respond with grace and attention. We cannot be champions of the hurting while parading the proud, the problem, or the insensitive. May we be the embodiment of the gospel message by loving well, helping the hurting, and never saying abuse in any form is acceptable. Of all people, the church should be the first to step in a provide a safe place.
Women who have been deeply impacted by statements, I see you. I hear you. And I want better.